London G20 LIVE: Inside the summit

By staff

The leaders of the 20 richest countries in the world have met in the Excel Centre in east London today for the most important summit in a generation.

After a day of informal talks and photo opportunities, and weeks of speculation about a UK-US split with France and Germany, agreement was finally reached on international action to stave off a world recession.

Live updates

20:16: Here’s a wordle of the G20 communique, with support, financial and agreed (surely greed?) especially prominent.

19:45: Obama’s first major international press conference on the world stage is over. He signalled a determination to do more listening; hailed today’s summit as truly historic; and demonstrated once again the compelling charm which has made him the darling of the world.

19:30: Obama has one eye on the US audience and one on the international. In his view, no one must be left behind. “It is my responsibility to lead America into recognising that its interest, its fate, is tied up with the wider world,” he presses. “If we neglect or abandon those who are suffering in poverty not only are we missing out on future potential markets, but that despair may turn to violence which turns on us.

“Unless we are concerned about the education of all children, not just our own, we may make people around the world susceptible to anti-American propaganda.”

19:00: The 43rd US president hasn’t minced his words. He’s talked of the summit being a “turning point in our pursuit of recovery” and used powerfully emotive language when justifying the substantial actions taken today. “It’s hard for the heads of 20 different states to bridge their differences. But our citizens are hurting, they all need us to come together,” he pressed.

18:30: Finally, 45 minutes late, the press conference begins. Our correspondent had to watch the White House corps grab the best seats before making it in, but at least he’s installed now.

18:12: Our correspondent somehow made it into the room for president Obama’s press conference room, the queue for which apparently stretches across the entire length of the Excel Centre. His comments are coming up.

17:56: David Cameron throws in his verdict: “I think it’s wrong they didn’t go further on trade. The focus should now shift back to the domestic economy. The level of deficit [in Britain] is hugely horrific. We need to act on that and act on that now.”

17:41: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has an interestingly sympathetic response to the summit.

Here it is in full: “Gordon Brown has clearly passed the test as a host to the world. He must now prove that he can turn this deal into real help for British people.

“To close the gap between his rhetoric and lack of real action Gordon Brown must urgently close the massive loopholes in the British tax system and force British banks that are owned by the taxpayer to finally start lending to British businesses.

“He must also agree to cancel his wasteful £12.5 billion VAT cut which has not created a single job and use the money to create the thousands of new jobs and thousands of new homes this country so desperately needs.

“Families who are bearing the brunt of this recession will be unforgiving of the G20 leaders if their promises do not translate into real help.”

17:37: The responses are really coming in now, with‘s correspondents running from press conference to press conference. Here’s Australian PM Kevin Rudd on it being a “tough haul for the Aussies”.

“It’s going to a tough long haul for Australia.

“We will take whatever action is necessary to continue to support growth in what is a spectacular economic downturn.

“These are bad numbers.”

And on bank bonuses – “This is the first time that global regulation has stepped in to [clamp down on] corporate cowboy behaviour as far as their remuneration is concerned.”

17:28: Christian Aid doesn’t appear impressed by what’s on offer either.

Head of policy Charles Abugre says: “We are also concerned about the G20’s apparent failure to target the new resources specifically at the world’s poorest countries, whose needs are most urgent.

“We are very disappointed by its choice of a system in which countries will exchange tax information on request only.

“This puts the burden on poor countries to prove they need the information and removes the pressure on responding countries to rapidly reply. To work, countries need the capacity to apply sanctions if their request for information is denied – capacity that poor countries do not have.”

17:25: Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper: “Some have interpreted the Washington consensus as an unregulated phenomenon. We never had that in Canada. I think we’re back to how Canada has been all along. A vigorous and liberalised market place but supported by appropriate and regulated financial structures.”

17:20: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, is in bullish mood. “Maybe some of you were in the IMF press conference after the last G20 summit in October,” he says. “They may remember what I said: ‘the IMF is back’. Today you get the proof.” He was disparaging about the pre-summit speculation he had heard about “the lack of coordination”, saying “in fact this is the most coordinated stimulus ever”.

16:58: Instant reaction – development charites react badly to G20 communiqué.

Julian Orman of the World Development Movement, called the outcome “a bitter pill to swallow”.

“What is needed from the G20 is a radical shake up of the global economy, what we got was world leaders desperately rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic,” he said.

The group added that it was “banned at the last minute” from the summit.

Duncan Green, from Oxfam, said: “We have deep concerns about how central the IMF has become in this crisis. The fund has been given a blank cheque but its reform remains no more than a promise.”

16:33: The Green party have lashed out at police tactics yesterday.

Caroline Lucas called the tactics, which included penning demonstrators in for hours at a time, as “disproportionate and provocative”.

The party have been recieving angry statements from their supporters all day. One of them said: “It is only thanks to my National Union of Journalists (NUJ) press pass that I managed to (eventually) escape the terrifying crush imposed by aggressive police. By that point I had spent at least two hours rammed in with other peaceful protesters, bursting for the loo and battling against a resurgence of a phobia of being trapped in tight crowds.”

16:04: There will be decisive action to kickstart global trade. “We are agreed to work urgently” based on the Doha trade round. $250 billion will be pumped into trade finance. There’s a lot of big figures being bandied around here. Brown reaffirms his commitment to the millenium development goals. Agreed sales of gold proceeds will be used to help the poorest countries. “Today’s decisions of course will not immediately solve the crisis, but we have begun the process by which it will be solved,” Brown argues.

16:01: There will be several pledges. The first is on the principles to reform the global banking system including bringing the shadow banking system, including hedge funds, into the global regulatory net. There will be an end to tax havens that don’t transmit info on request.

Cleaning up banking is the second, including action on toxic assets. Thirdly, they will restore global growth and hurry up recovery. There will be additonal resources of $1 trillion to the world economy.

15:59: Sarkozy has appeared at the podium. In another part of the hall, Gordon Brown begins speaking at the exact same time – these two are competitive to the last. “We belief that in this new global age our prosperity is indivisible,” he says. “Today we have reached a new consensus.”

14:43: There hasn’t been much coverage of ‘special drawing rights’, or SDRs, in the run-up to this summit. But sources are suggesting these will have major significance in the communique. The ides is they inject signfiicant extra liquidity into the world economy by allowing developing countries to exchange their SDRs for access to the IMF’s dollar, gold etc reserves. There are $20 billion of SDRs in circulation at the moment; that amount could be significantly increased by the end of today.

14:35: Our correspondent got chatting with Ahmed Al-Omran of saudijeans and Michael Kleinman of, two blogs who are here as part of the G20 Voice project.

14:28: The G20 summit will give “momentum” to efforts to reach a global deal on climate change, Ed Miliband has said. The energy and climate change secretary was in upbeat mood as he briefed media this afternoon. He said he expected the communiqué would not forget the need for action on the environment.

“What the G20 summit shows is there is an understanding among world leaders that the economic crisis and the environmental crisis can be tackled together,” Miliband said.

“The very fact this has been part of the discussion will give us what I think is the most important commodity – momentum.”

He expects countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, which have been hesitant to commit to low-carbon economies in the past, would attach importance to renewables.

“The notion of low-carbon as a way out of recession has gone from being marginal to being mainstream,” he added.
“I think the world is changing very significantly.”

14:13: Results from the latest poll are just in and it looks like the public are as split on the Anglo-American fiscal stimulus plan as world leaders are. Forty-eight per cent are against the move and 53 per cent are for it.

14:02: Our correspondent talks to Alison Woodhead about the army of bloggers at the summit.

13:07: In the last 45 minutes, police visited two squats and detained everyone inside on suspicion of involvement in the violence yesterday.

One address had 20 people inside, while the other had around 60. “They will be detained on suspicion of violent disorder but released immediately if they are not of interest to police,” a police spokesman said.

12:44: Details are beginning to emerge about what we can expect later. Senior sources are suggesting many previous targets laid down by Britain are likely to be exceeded and, in some cases, trebled. Good news for developing countries, whose trade finance will be helped, while the IMF’s emergency lending capacity is set to be improved as well.

11:34: Our correspondent talks with Sir Bob Geldof

10:30: Business secretary Peter Mandelson hinted that substantial resources are to be devoted to international trade following today’s summit.

The former European Union trade commissioner said “a lot of progress” had been achieved at the Doha trade round in the last four years.

Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in London, he said the trade round would “resume again” and lead to “final eventual success”.

“We will see today the commitment being made,” he predicted.

10:00: Our correspondents at the summit discuss the mood of expectation hanging over the ExCel centre in Docklands.